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According to USC,

18 U.S. Code § 4. Misprision of felony
Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Say if someone posted a post on SE that is clearly a crime under US federal laws. However it is unclear whether the author is of US citizenship. Is it a legal obligation for a US citizen to report such posts to authorities? Is it considered active concealing by down/close/delete voting the post?

My understandings: No. Since it is required that the case is cognizable by a US court, and it is not the case if the author is not a US citizen or on US territory; since it is unclear whether the author is a US citizen, one does not have knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States. Hence a US citizen is not legally obligated to report such posts, and down/close/delete voting is not a crime.

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  • Are you thinking of a case where the post appears to confess a crime, or where the post itself is a crime? Jun 6 '20 at 3:42
  • @NateEldredge the post it self is crime. Example: copyright violations Jun 6 '20 at 3:43
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    Okay. Note that copyright infringement is only a crime under certain conditions, and it's only a felony under even more restrictive conditions, but we can run with the hypothetical. Jun 6 '20 at 3:51
  • Also, there's a citation on Wikipedia to a case holding that the law only criminalizes concealment, and not a mere failure to report. Jun 6 '20 at 4:01
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    @NateEldredge which gives rise of potential issues in down close delete voting & flagging, as they may 1) reduce the visibility of the post 2) contribute to the post being deleted Jun 6 '20 at 4:05
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From the Statute (emphasis mine):

conceals and does not as soon as possible make known

This means hiding the knowledge of the crime, and will require authorities to prove that there was an effort to conceal the crime.

No American has the legal obligation to report felonies, except in certain cases (child molestation, an offense about to happen for certain professions, etc.).

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  • “Mere silence, without some affirmative act, is insufficient evidence.” Lancey v. United States, 356 F.2d 407, 410 (9th Cir. 1966) Jun 6 '20 at 21:41
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    Would down close delete voting & flagging be considered as "actively concealing", as they may 1) reduce the visibility of the post 2) contribute to the post being deleted Jun 7 '20 at 3:27

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